Nonprofit Exec Pleads Guilty To Seven-Figure Theft

Denise Perry, executive director of Millennium Care Inc., in New York City pleaded guilty to tax evasion and theft. And, the organization will be dissolved in a plea deal with the State of New York. The stolen funds were meant to cover operating costs of short-term housing services at a 100-room homeless shelter based in the Bronx.

As part of the plea, Perry entered a guilty plea to Criminal Tax Fraud in the Second Degree, and Millennium Care pleaded guilty to Grand Larceny in the First Degree. Both charges are felonies. Perry’s plea prohibits her from nonprofit service and requires her to pay more than $1.1 million in New York City and New York state taxes, penalties and interest. Perry was also sentenced to five years’ probation.

Millennium Care will pay nearly $2.4 million and will be dissolved in response to several regulatory violations and crimes, including failure to make required filings with the Office of the Attorney General’s Charities Bureau and the New York City Mayor’s Office of Contract Services.

A message left at Millennium Care regarding homeless shelter’s ongoing status was not immediately returned.

The diverted money was part of $10 million in funding from the New York City Department of Homeless Services, according to a statement from the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James. Between 2013 and 2016, Perry used the cash to underwrite her purchases at high-end retailers Tiffany & Co. and Bergdorf Goodman, as well as her cars, gym membership and other personal expenses between 2013 and 2016, according to a statement from James’ office.

Perry also underreported her income in 2013, and initially did not file tax returns between 2014 and 2019. In 2018, she filed late returns for 2015 and 2016, but substantially underreported her income, according to the statement from James’ office.

Perry also hired her brother, William Perry, and nephew, Joseph Colon, as employees of the nonprofit, and paid them much more than their reported salaries.

“Stealing money that is earmarked for people experiencing homelessness is as immoral as it is illegal,” James said in a statement. “This individual broke the law by failing to pay taxes while taking money from a homeless shelter in order provide a luxurious lifestyle for herself and her family members.”

GuideStar by Candid has little information on Millennium Care. According to a notice on its listing for the organization, Millennium Care’s exempt status was revoked for failing to file appropriate forms with the IRS for three consecutive years.

“This is an appalling case of greed and callous disregard for those desperate for help, one that unfairly tarnishes all the charitable organizations throughout New York who do so much good,” Acting Commissioner of New York State Taxation and Finance Amanda Hiller said via a statement. “By flouting her tax obligations, the perpetrator also deprived communities of critical funding for other essential public services. We will continue to work with all our partners in law enforcement to help ensure that justice prevails.”